DIY Landscaping

3 min read

DIY Landscaping

Investment in landscaping is a smart move. But many property owners go to effort and expense, then find themselves wishing they had started with a plan. Two common ways to do a plan – DIY (do-it-yourself) or hire a professional to do a plan for you.

 

Like any other home improvement project – hiring a team of professionals often makes the most sense. Just like with professional designers who would design a kitchen or a bathroom for you – a professional landscape design team will not only understand the creative parts of design – but also be intimate with plants, hardscape, property values, and issues with your specific site. Professionals also know how to best combine your ideas and expectations with your budget.

 

We will touch on more details about using a professional design team in a future post – but for today let’s talk about the idea of DIY – do-it-yourself.

 

Why would you do a landscape plan on your own?  We can think of a lot of good reasons.

  • Sense of pride and ownership of the design
  • Creative process can be both fun and satisfying
  • People who like plants and gardening often are comfortable in laying out the where and why of plant placement in a garden
  • Homeowners who enjoy DIY projects in other areas of their home might enjoy some of the challenges of an outdoor living space design
  • DIY might be less expensive than hiring a professional - although this is not always true – especially if the build out of the design has unforeseen issues

 

Whatever your reason to do your own design – here are a few ideas that might help your process. While books and the internet are full of ideas on garden design – we like to:

  • Talk to neighbors – see what is working with similar houses – what elements do you like – what do you not like
  • Visit the LO award winners photos for ideas – here you will see many examples of amazing design and there will plenty of ideas to apply to your project https://landscapeontario.com/47th-annual-awards-winners
  • Visit Public gardens to see what plants look like when mature and to get ideas for combination plantings and colours that work well together.
  • Stop in at the garden centre – look at the displays and the plant material – check out the hardscape ideas from lighting to water features to stonework and pavers. Talk to the staff and find out what they like.
  • Think about how space will be used – kids, pets, parties, a viewing area, a quiet reading area. An outdoor eating area is often different from a kid play area when you are thinking about design.
  • Any safety and security issues.
  • Think about the seasons and who you will use the space – are you outside all the time even when it is still cool – or are you looking for something that looks good from the window
  • Think about the time of day you will use the outdoor living space – where is the sun going to be – will you need additional lighting- will you need additional warmth or shade cover
  • What about privacy and neighbourhood sightlines, do you want to open up the space with a see-through fence or close in the space with a solid fence.

 landscape plan

Our example is a plan drawn up by a friend of ours. This is a busy household with two working professionals with young children. Their backyard objective was to have a safe place for the kids to play – but with enough gardens to keep the parents happy. They use their back deck to eat many a summer meal so wanted plants that would not attract bugs, wanted to add lights to enjoy their evenings and needed low maintenance since both parents are so busy.  They had a step grade change as the backyard sloped to a local park.

 

After talking with neighbours, family and co-workers, several trips to the garden centre allowed the homeowner to talk out ideas that ranged from a mulched play area for the kids to low wattage outdoor lighting to a stone retaining wall to allow for more garden. Plants suggested included Pines, Magnolia, Hosta, Heuchera, and for the bugs -  adding citronella geraniums each spring.  Laying conduit as they installed the landscape allowed them to easily add the outdoor lighting.  Adding a storage shed helps keep all the gardening equipment in one spot and keeps all nice and neat.

 

A thoughtful plan and proper preparation made the job easier and is yielding a very comfortable outdoor living space.



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